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The History of Oedipus Complex: Freud's Case Study and Thoughts

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The Psychodynamic approach was founded by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. He described humans as having unconscious thoughts and desires and that the human psyche is split in three the Id which is our unconscious and impulsive desires it remains unaffected by reality; its pleasure seeking and wants instant gratification. Freud believed that a personality developed through a series of different stages the 4 main psychosexual stages are: Oral between the age birth to one, this is when the infant is dependent usually on his mother this stage is focussed on feeding and oral stimulation. Anal from ages one to three, this is when the toddler will be toilet training and gaining control over bladder and bowels it is during this stage that if a child is praised for doing well that this will lead to a productive creative personality where as if a parent is not supportive or they ridicule the child then this can lead to a messy destructive personality. The phallic phase between three to six this is where a child discovers their genital area and the differences between the male/female.

What is interesring is that children become envious of there parent of the same sex and want their parent of the opposite sex affections this is called the Oedipus complex for males and the Electra complex for females. The genital stage (puberty onwards) Freud believes that depending on how each of these stages are tackled can either have a positive or negative affect on the the child development if all the psychosexual stages are successfully completed the end result will be a healthy personality.

Freud did case study called Little Hans. He received letters from Han’s father from around the age of 3 years. Han’s had developed a fascination with his ‘Widdler’ (penis) He also had developed a phobia of White horses. Han’s had said he wished for his father to remain working away from home as he is allowed to sleep in his mother’s bed when he is away; Freud viewed this as the Oedipus complex he believed that the fear of the horses in particular the white horses with a black bit and large penis were because this represented Han’s father and when he once saw a little girl being told not to put her finger near the horses mouth this reminded Han’s when his mother said she would cut off his widdler. Freud interpreted this as castration fear.

To conclude, Freuds case study ‘Little Hans’ appears to support his theory in particular the Oedipus complex which happens during the phallic phase the child becomes unconsciously sexually attracted to their parent of the opposite sex and starts to become jealous or envious of their same sex parent. The study lacked population validity as it was only based on one person and you could not generalise the results to a larger group. Both of Han’s parents followed Freuds work and had good understanding of the Oedipus complex therefore the information that they provided in the letters may have been bias. Majority of the data that was collected came from Han’s father not from Freud or Han’s himself.

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The History of Oedipus Complex: Freud’s Case Study and Thoughts. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
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